ATP Sydney Final Preview: Viktor Troicki - Grigor Dimitrov

It is the last match for both Viktor Troicki and Grigor Dimitrov ahead of next week's Australian Open. Troicki looks for his third career title and second straight in Sydney. Dimitrov looks for his first title since 2014.

(3) Viktor Troicki - (4) Grigor Dimitrov

How They Got Here

Troicki had a difficult time just getting to Saturday's final at the Apia International Sydney. Due to a rain delay on Thursday, Troicki was forced to finish his quarterfinal match against Nicolas Mahut first. Troicki rallied from a set down to oust Mahut 4-6, 6-3, 6-3. The rain then may have done him a favor on Friday. In between delays, Troicki found his game after trailing Temuraz Gabashvili 3-6, 2-4 when the last delay hit. From there, Troicki turned the second set around by winning the last four games and then secured an early break in the third to coast to a 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 win. The Serb had 11 aces against the Russian, but struggled a bit on serve until late in the match.

For Dimitrov, it's been an easier time this week. The fourth seed started the week off by scraping past Pablo Cuevas 7-6, 6-4. He then was put to task by Alexandr Dolgopolov in the quarters. The 8th seed pushed him by winning the opening set, but Dimitrov was able to survive 4-6, 6-3, 6-4. He was able to put Gilles Muller away more easily in the semifinals 6-2, 7-6. The Bulgarian has done a good job of fending off break points this week, saving 10 of 12. Only Dolgopolov was able to break him. Dimitrov told reporters that he was happy with how double duty turned out on Friday, saying, " I think after I was very happy to complete the match with Alex. Then coming out for the second match was just like a new day for me. I didn't think so much of the previous match or how I'm going to finish or what I'm going to do. I was just trying to focus on what was important to me.”

Head-to-Head

Dimitrov holds a 2-0 advantage in their career meetings. The most recent came at the Brisbane International earlier this month. Dimitrov survived a stiff test 5-7, 7-6, 6-2. Only seven points separated the two for the nearly three hour long match. Dimitrov won 122 points to Troicki's 115. The other career meeting came in 2012 in an indoor court in Basel. Dimitrov cruised to a 6-3, 6-2 win.

What To Expect

This match-up figures to be much more likely to follow the pattern of their Brisbane meeting with Troicki very comfortable on these courts. Troicki said as much following his win over Gabashvili, stating  "I really like [Sydney], I played the finals in 2011 also; won last year; back in the finals again. Tough opponent tomorrow, but looking forward to it. I like playing here."

Troicki also said he does not expect to be fatigued because of some extra rest before Saturday night's final, "I'm happy and glad that tomorrow I'm playing a bit later so I will have time to rest. But I feel fine. I feel fit. This is what I worked for the last month and a bit more, since getting here, for the preparations in Australia."

The weather should not be an issue for the final as the forecast does not call for rain. It will be a bit windy again, but both players dealt with that on Friday. Motivation should not be a problem for either player in this match. Troicki will be hell bent on defending his title, while Dimitrov would love to grab his first since Queens Club in 2014. On the court, Dimitrov has the better variety of shots and seems to have been a bit more decisive in his use of that variety early this season. Troicki has a solid forehand, but his backhand can be worked on and one would expect Dimitrov to try and exploit that wing.

Troicki's serve seems to have a few more hitches in it than Dimitrov's. The fourth seeded Bulgarian can get on dominant rolls when his first serve is humming. This week it has been doing just that, allowing Dimitrov to win around 80 percent of his first serve points. His first serve percentage has been high most of the week, so that should enable him to put himself into position to keep on top with his serve.

Despite Troicki's claims that he feels good, there is no doubt that he has the extra mileage on his legs from yesterday over what Dimitrov experienced. In a match that could go three sets, that could wind up providing a difference down the stretch.

Prediction: Grigor Dimitrov wins in three sets

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